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Live Labs 2 blog - East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s Decarbonising Street Lighting project

Karl Rourke, one of the project leads for the East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s Live Lab, explains more about their Decarbonising Street Lighting project.

Well, it’s all go here at East Riding of Yorkshire Council now that our Live Labs 2 project is off and running.

Our project brings with its own challenges. We are a complex programme, pulling together 11 local authorities from across the UK to look at the thorny subject of street lighting and ways in which street lighting and sign lights can be adapted or removed. Not only that, we are launching against a backdrop of rising energy costs and tightening budgets.

There is a great amount of sector interest in this project along with real enthusiasm from our partners across local authority and industry, but there are many things to consider.

We have drawn on the extensive skills and experience from within our group of partners, along with additional support from across the sector, to create six working groups. These cover all aspects of the project, from carbon and natural environment, to communications, risk and legal. They have now met three times and have begun work on all the specific workstreams that need to be examined and explored.

Work underway to decarbonise street lighting

The bulk of our switch off trials will be taking place in the summer of 2024 following detailed safety assessment and road user monitoring.

However, we have already begun installing some of the alternatives to street lighting. We have installed approximately 3km of next generation white lining and solar powered illuminated road studs, and are due to install higher reflectivity signs imminently. These installations follow our road resurfacing program along our test routes in existing unlit areas and will allow us to monitor their effectiveness and durability for the full three years of the project.

Over the last two weeks, we have also commissioned another 10km of next generation white lining, including illuminated road stud design and lighting switch off, in preparation for next summer’s full trials. Before the white lining is installed, we will be undertaking surveys along the entire test routes to measure the existing effectiveness of the street lighting, white lines and reflective studs. Measuring both old and new will enable us to determine baselines for the project moving forward.

Behind the scenes at the East Riding Live Labs 2 project

This project is not all about shiny new lines and road studs.

We have been working hard behind the scenes to identify specific trial areas within East Riding of Yorkshire and with our national partners to find other locations further afield. At the same time, we have been developing our approach to carbon measurement and our carbon baseline.

The project team have also been raising awareness of the project by attending and speaking at a range of conferences. We presented at this year’s Traffex event at the Birmingham NEC and attended the LCRIG (Local Councils Research Innovation Group) Innovation Festival at Newark, along with presenting to a number of national bodies including ADEPT boards, the Institute of Lighting Professionals and UK Street Lighting Board.

The response we have received has been surprisingly positive given the sometimes very emotive subject of removing street lighting. We now have a core group of industry leading suppliers and manufacturers supporting our efforts to rationalise street lighting standards.

The project has also aligned with the fantastic work that Sheffield University is undertaking in road lighting, and we are pleased to have them on board providing support and academic scrutiny. Their input has enabled us to identify the key areas in the British Standards that we want to focus on in terms of providing low carbon, safe alternatives to street lighting.

Building a network of collaboration

As you can imagine, bringing together senior highway leaders from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can be a tricky business, but the fantastic collaboration we have with local authorities from all over the UK is the key to our success.

We hosted our first Live Labs partner conference in Cambridge on the 20th and 21st June which was a resounding success. It brought some fantastic ideas to the table and gave the project a defined direction of travel.

This Live Labs project has certainly focused minds on an area of highway construction that is just taken for granted. I have been pleasantly surprised by the real enthusiasm we are seeing from areas where I expected to find significant resistance. The understanding that things have to change is out there and we are starting to harness this new carbon-centric and common sense way of viewing street lighting.

Yes, there is a lot of work still to do, but if the first three months are anything to go by, we know the will is there to push us forward and realise a design and carbon led approach to lighting the nation’s roads.

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